Category Archives: Health & Fitness

Throwback Thursday: Who needs a laugh?

You guys. I’m running the Charlotte Half Marathon this Saturday, and all I can really say is that I’ve actually been training, so THANK HEAVENS this won’t be a repeat of THAT ONE YEAR. Do you remember? No? Oh good, this will be fun. Happy Throwback Thursday, friends. I present to you: my dumbest race ever.

Originally published on March 10, 2014.

I did something really stupid.If you’re looking for how to run your BEST RACE EVER - this is totally NOT IT. (But if you want to feel better about yourself - or just need a really good laugh - you want to read this right now.)

I ran a half marathon.

For which I had not trained.

I don’t mean I just didn’t get in any tempo runs or mile repeats or whatever. I mean my longest “long run” was 5 miles. Also, my average weekly mileage was 5 miles. So basically I’d been going for a 5-mile run once a week for the past 8 weeks. That means this half marathon was 13.1 miles of Pure Crazy, people.

Back when I registered, the plan had been to give myself something to train for and set myself up to feel like complete awesomeness on my 35th birthday.

As described above, that didn’t really pan out, but my competitive nature still kicked in and said, “Do it. You can gut this out. Get out there. This thing CAN’T HOLD YOU DOWN. YOU’RE ARUNNERDAMMIT.”

That kind of self-talk can only lead to good things, right?

Fast forward to race morning. My alarm goes off. I don’t remember why my alarm is going off so early on a Saturday morning. I hit snooze, drowsily hoping I’ll know what’s going on when it goes off again.

Alarm goes off again. I bolt upright in bed, remembering: RACE. This thought is not met with joy.

Stumbling into the bathroom, I find a note from my husband written in shaving cream across the bathroom mirror. “Good luck. Love u.” My first thought is, “Seriously, I JUST cleaned that damn mirror. I am not cleaning that up.” Then I decide it was thoughtful and I’m a jerk.

I go through an abbreviated version of my race-morning routine. The abbreviated version because, typically, hitting snooze is not included in the routine and I’m suddenly panicked because I don’t know how to get to where I need to park uptown and why did I hit snooze I NEED THOSE NINE MINUTES BAAAAACK.

I grab my race bib & a cup of coffee, and run out the door.

I get three minutes away from my house and realize I’m starving and about to run a half marathon on a glass of water and a cup of coffee.

So, naturally, I go through the McDonald’s Drive Thru. Yes, really.

I eat a Bacon, Egg, & Cheese. ON MY WAY TO THE RACE. Like a boss.

My ninja-like navigation skillz lead me successfully around the correct parking garage three times and then into a different parking garage and then straight to the (3/4-mile-long) line of women waiting to use the bathroom.

Next stop: the starting line. This race doesn’t have designated pacing groups, and the half-marathon start is combined with the 5K start. So determining similarly-paced runners can be tricky. Left to my own devices, I resort to a tried and true method: look at people and make judgements about their fitness level based on their appearance.

The man with the teeny shorts, spindly legs, and Garmin the size of his head?
Too fast for me.

The woman in the compression socks and double braids with ice in her veins?
Too fast for me.

I wisely choose to start near the big man wearing jeans.

The gun goes off. Eleven minutes later, I cross the starting line.

The next 5 miles are quite delightful. Of course they are. I run 5 miles every week.

Miles 6, 7, & 8 are less delightful, but I’m still moving, spurred along by the cheers and homemade signs of my fans the people who know the people around me.

SIDE NOTE: In the “Homemade Signs That Made Me Smile Through the Pain” Contest, an adorable pair of little boys win 1st place with:

Second place goes to:
(Although I actually am wearing underwear, so I quickly turn my smile into a frown for the sake of accuracy.)

Third place belongs to:
RUN YOUR BUTT OFF!!! Oh wait, you don’t have one.

And honorable mention goes to:

The reason the last one only receives an honorable mention is I can only smile for a moment before I’m paranoid that THERE IS NO ONE BEHIND ME. I am in last place, aren’t I?

But I reach mile 9, and something wonderful happens. My legs go numb.

I run the next mile or so in a zombie-like state, thinking, “Just get to 10 before you walk.”

I pass the 10-mile mark, the numbness fades, and the pain rolls in with a vengeance. My competitive side suddenly barks, “Suck it up! You DON’T WALK IN A RACE!”

My realistic side says, “Excuse me. You are not, in fact, racing. You had a Bacon, Egg, & Cheese for breakfast, and you are shuffling. You can walk faster than you are currently running.”

I walk.

Fellow competitors shuffle past (I wasn’t in last place!), and through miles 10-12, I intersperse 3-4 walk breaks amid my shuffle-running.

With one (POINT ONE) mile to go, I find new strength. (Due in small part to my strong desire for the whole thing to be over already, and in large part to the woman on the sidewalk holding the neon green sign declaring, “YOU CAN.”)

I make the last turn, and the final quarter mile lies before me. At that very moment, heaven opens and the angels start singing “Can’t Hold Us.” Okay, maybe it’s Macklemore on my playlist, but whatevs. It’s a gift from the good Lord, and I receive it.

I truck it across the finish line like the man in jeans is chasing me. (Kind of fast, but not really.) Before I even know what has happened, I’m holding a finisher’s medal and a bottle of PowerAde.

I wish I had a huge spiritual epiphany to share about this experience. But sometimes the only epiphany He gives me is, “It’s really stupid to not train for a half marathon and then run it anyway. But good job. Kind of.”

Well, amen to that. Here’s to learning lessons the hard way. And Advil. Lots and lots of Advil.

43 Songs: The Ultimate Running Playlist

While visiting my parents in Indiana, I thought I’d be able to keep up my training for an upcoming half marathon (I’m planning to NOT repeat this total FAIL). But, I’m currently stuck inside, watching the freezing rain outside, and am just not hard core enough today to get out there and run in that mess.

Whether you're in marathon training or just looking for a great workout mix, this Ultimate Running Playlist is sure to get you moving!Meanwhile, why not take this time to finally share my running playlist with you? I listened to this mix while training to qualify for the Boston Marathon. It’s pretty random – and no, I wouldn’t let my kids listen to some of these songs – but they all either make me happy or pump me up.

So, without further ado, The Ultimate Running Playlist:

1. Renegades– X Ambassadors
2. Fight Song – Rachel Platten
3. Love Runs Out – OneRepublic
4. Stitches – Shawn Mendes
5. Shots – Imagine Dragons
6. TiK ToK – Ke$ha
7. Rolling in the Deep – Adele
8. Raise Your Glass [Clean] – Pink
9. Photograph – Ed Sheeran
10. One Thing – One Direction
11. Lose Yourself [Clean] – Eminem
12. Drive By – Train
13. Counting Stars – OneRepublic
14. Good Feeling – Flo Rida
15. Black Widow [feat. Rita Ora] [Clean] – Iggy Azalea
16. Try – Pink
17. I Lived – OneRepublic
18. Maps – Maroon 5
19. Boom Clap – CharliXCX
20. You Make Me Brave – Bethel Music
21. Bang Bang – Ariana Grande & Jessie J & Nicki Minaj
22. Brave – Sara Bareilles
23. Greater – MercyMe
24. Titanium (Feat. Sia) – David Guetta
25. Team – Lorde
26. Dark Horse – Katy Perry
27. Grenade – Bruno Mars
28. There You Go – Pink
29. Roar – Katy Perry
30. Little Talks – Of Monsters and Men
31. We Found Love – Rihanna
32. Burn – Ellie Goulding
33. Radioactive – Imagine Dragons
34. Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) – Kelly Clarkson
35. Club Can’t Handle Me (feat. David Guetta) – Flo Rida
36. Feel Again – OneRepublic
37. Firework – Katy Perry
38. Cruise – Florida Georgia Line
39. The Lost Are Found – Hillsong Worship
40. Can’t Hold Us – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
41. Awake My Soul (with Lecrae) – Chris Tomlin
42. Part Of Me – Katy Perry
43. Geronimo – Sheppard

What’s on your favorite playlist? What should I add?

Force Quit: an invitation

In three days, I’ll run a marathon. I have poured hours and miles of hard work into preparing.

But just weeks ago, I thought my efforts were all in vain.

It was August. School had started for BOTH of my children, and for the first time since I could remember, how I spent my day was in MY CONTROL. The season of school-age children had finally arrived. (Cue the singing angels.)

I had looked forward to this Promised Land with great anticipation — and it was the very reason I had chosen these months to train for another marathon: MARGIN! TIME! AUTONOMY!

And then, I (repeatedly) received this question: “What are you going to DO all day!?”

While I could’ve simply shrugged my shoulders with glee, I instead received the well-meaning question as a challenge. An accusation, even.

Defenses high, I began living every day from a place of, “Oh, I’ll SHOW YOU what I’m going to do all day. I’ll be PLENTY BUSY, thankyouverymuch.”

I was living my everyday Mom Life, plus training for the marathon. But then I just kept adding things to my plate. Like, All The Things. (Because I MUST DO ALL THE THINGS BECAUSE NOW I HAVE ALL THE TIME. Obviously.) And as my schedule filled up with All The Good Important Things, REST quickly became… well, not a thing.

But the snowball had started rolling, and that sucker is hard to stop once it’s rolling downhill. Partly because I felt like, if ever, NOW is when I actually *should* be able to finally DO IT ALL.  And partly because I was scared of what it would mean about me if I had “all this time” and still *couldn’t* DO IT ALL.

Force QuitWell, let me ask you a question. Do you know the “Force Quit” option on your computer? I am quite familiar with this function because I tend to leave programs open and running forever and ever amen. So, when I try to actually shut down my laptop, there are often programs that REFUSE TO STOP RUNNING, which then keeps the computer from rebooting.

So, I have to choose “Force Quit.”

Hm. Sounds kind of familiar.

I can only run so hard for so long. Literally and figuratively.

And so one day in September, I caught my daughter’s innocent little cough. And my body – over-taxed and under-rested – took it and turned it into full-blown pneumonia.

Weeks into marathon training, that’s like a punch in the gut. (More like a knife in the lung, really.) Pneumonia!? PNEUMONIA!

And I could see it: FORCE QUIT.

Temporary, yes. But real. And real inconvenient.

I was terrified. If I stopped, how would I ever get going again? How would I regain any momentum? How could I possibly recover from this setback?

And then God opened my eyes to an alternate view. Instead of a setback, He revealed an invitation. An invitation to REST. Without guilt. Without shame. I had a “MUST REST” trump card: I had pneumonia, for crying out loud. You’re not LAZY if you rest while you have PNEUMONIA. You’re just following doctor’s *very adamant* orders!

I canceled appointments. I didn’t work out. I didn’t go out. I didn’t volunteer. I stopped. For almost two weeks, I just plain stopped.

Now, several weeks later – and just days away from the marathon – I look back on that “Force Quit” with immense gratitude. It truly WAS an invitation – but not just to stop and rest. It was also an invitation to gain respect my body’s NEED for rest – and its ability to GET BACK UP AGAIN.

Our need for rest is not a sign of weakness. It’s evidence of being HUMAN. The main reason I chose to train for a marathon this year is because I knew the kids would both be in school and I would have time to TAKE A NAP. EVERY. DAY. Because I know I need so much more sleep when I train this hard. Yet, when it came time to give that to myself, it felt like a failure, so I kept the program running, active, busy.

What would it feel like to embrace your need to rest – without shame. Without needing to prove that you can DO ALL THE THINGS with ALL THE TIME.

“Hello, my name is Amanda. I have two children in school. What do I DO with myself all day? Well, I do some stuff. But I also take a nap. I TAKE A NAP.” Because I need it. Also, because I want to and because I have time for it during this season, if I protect it.

Does this make me lazy? No. It makes me NOT AN IDIOT. If you’re tired and you have 30 minutes to spare for a nap: YOU TAKE A NAP. If “Me-as-a-Mom-with-two-little-kids-climbing-her-legs-all-day” saw “Me Today” pass up a nap, she would throat punch me. Super hard.

Where do you need to respect your need for rest? In what ways do you need to choose a “Force Quit?”